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Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  289 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Soon to be a major motion picture starring Jeremy Renner

Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 "Dark Alliance" series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 29th 2006 by Nation Books (first published September 28th 2006)
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Sep 07, 2014 Molly rated it liked it
I rate this about 3.5 stars. I thought the story was very interesting but there were so many players involved, some of the story was a little overwhelming/confusing. I also felt some parts were repetitive. I'm left not knowing how I feel about Webb or his reporting
Feb 24, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was part of a sale on audible and looked interesting. I hadn't followed this when it broke originally so I was kind of wondering what the deal was. Note that the book is primarily about the reporting of the story and reaction to. There is some about what was discovered, but it's not heavy with information about the CIA's activity. The book starts off a little melodramatic in its tone, but ends with some objective reflections on the events from many of the main players. Webb and his editors ...more
Nov 14, 2014 Ben rated it really liked it
If you want to be filled with rage at the mainstream media's shameless devotion to protecting the status quo, this is the book for you. Great stuff about the New York Times, L.A. Times, and Washington Post going after Gary Webb for daring to tie the CIA to coke-smuggling contras. The downward trajectory of Webb's life after his career was destroyed by the corporate press is heartbreaking.

This book is best read along with Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's excellent Whiteout, especially t
Kristi Bumpus
Oct 16, 2014 Kristi Bumpus rated it liked it
Interesting book, if not especially well-written. I am not sure author ever really made his case, but as someone working in journalism who well remembered the situation, l enjoyed reading more about Webb and what transpired.
Jerry Peace
Our government that blithely and routinely operates illegally, and worse, immorally, while wallowing in the muck of "national security," our media establishment that arrogantly and self-righteously destroys a reporter's reputation and thus his journalistic future while eating the CIA's PR vomit and throwing it back up again as truth, paving the way for its ultimate lapdog experience of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and a Manichean reporter's own tainted yet admirable doggedness- all ingredie ...more
Feb 16, 2015 Roger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a five-star story in a four-star book, and the primary reason I say that is grammar. Maybe I'm being too picky, but there's simply too many missing prepositions and articles.

That being said, Gary Webb's story is one that deserves telling over and over in as many ways as possible -- for many reasons. This isn't the forum to talk about all those reasons. So, I'll simply say: read the book.
Justin Freeman
Sep 14, 2016 Justin Freeman rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Great read on journalist Gary Webb's life, career, downfall and suicide. An alarming amount of typos for a book about a journalist, written by a journalist. There were an extroridinary amount of quotes taken from Gary's own book "Dark Alliance" and I'm interested in reading that now and seeing the movie.
May 14, 2013 Richard rated it really liked it
Good, quick read about Gary Webb and the shameful way his story was handled by our "watchdog" press, most notably the Washington Post, LA Times, and New York Times. All three of them seemed more concerned about carrying water for the Federal Government than actually looking into a story, as it turns out, that had plenty of precedence.
Curtis Miller
Apr 28, 2016 Curtis Miller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read

The book opened my eyes up to specifics about investigative reporting and he CIA's involvement in the drug trade. The book also helps depict the true nature of news reporting by large papers.
Josephine Burks
Dec 01, 2016 Josephine Burks rated it really liked it
I was inspired by the movie about Gary Webb to read this book. It details how the mainstream media collectively assassinated the credibility and character of Webb after his expose piece on the CIA and various Nicaragua drug cartels. I'm definitely going to read Webb's book "Dark Alliance".
A solid 3.5 stars.

Challenge Complete: a book that became a movie

With this book, I did something I do very rarely- I watched the movie first. I enjoyed it immensely. I thought it was good, if a bit slow and in danger of taking itself too seriously at points. However, I do admit that my opinion is probably a bit biased because Jeremy Renner is one my favorite actors. So I was very interested in picking this book up.

After reading the book, my opinion, while still generally positive, was altered a g
Ed Morawski
Nov 25, 2014 Ed Morawski rated it liked it
"Kill the Messenger" is the story of Gary Webb, a San Jose Mercury News reporter, who broke the fantastic story of the CIA indirectly (that's a key word) creating the crack cocaine epidemic in South Central LA, and what happened to him as a consequence.

The story is interesting (since I like many other others believed this whole episode was a hoax perpetrated by the left wing) and it turns out to be mostly true! The only problem was that every interested party took it upon themselves to interpret
Sep 21, 2015 Sam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The horrifying implosion of a brilliant journalism career is the focus of Kill the Messenger. In it, author Nick Shou tells the story of Gary Webb, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who tore the lid off CIA malfeasance in the Nicaraguan drug trade and published an earth-shaking expose that rocked American political landscape... until he was torn to pieces by rival papers in an unprecedented campaign of professional assassination.

Shou begins with Webb's youthful start in the journal
Aug 07, 2015 Keka rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only read this because I want to see the movie and, whenever possible, I always read the book of a movie I want to watch if a book exists.

This read more like an extremely long newspaper article than a book. Not that it wasn't interesting, it was just cut and dry. Here are the facts, here are quotes by sources, that's it and that's all.

Before reading the book, I had my doubts about Gary Webb committing suicide. But now, I'm pretty sure he did. This book revealed a lot about Webb. He seemed to b
Nov 11, 2014 Iain rated it really liked it
"Kill the Messenger" is a perfect title for Nick Schou's book that looks into investigative journalist Gary Webb's life and the expose Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion. The story was a bombshell and it exposed an awful truth which needed to be exposed but instead the messenger was hung out to dry after being discredited, Gary Webb's journalism career was torpedoed by the three biggest newspapers in the country (New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times). T ...more
Maria Arra Perez
Jul 03, 2015 Maria Arra Perez rated it it was amazing
I have three words: one beautiful book.

Every journalist should read Nick Schou's Kill the Messenger to get a clear cut idea on how the industry really works. Often, we only see the perks of being a newsman -- getting free and easy access to events, getting invited to tons of gatherings, the bizz and buzz of meeting new people, the connections and the scoops -- now this book will tell you the cruelty of the world you've chosen.

Journalists, would-be, and wanna-be journalists are really the targe
Craig Cote
Mar 29, 2015 Craig Cote rated it liked it
I'd read about this book on and it sounded interesting, so when it went on sale on Audible I picked up a copy. Segueing from "To Kill a Mockingbird" to this on the same evening, the emotional state I left the TKaM carried over to the start of this and I got a little teary during the intro.

Gary Webb's story is interesting, although the title is maybe a bit deceiving -- if one is expecting a conspiracy-theory to frame the narrative, one will be disappointed. It's easy to agree with the b
Nov 09, 2014 Travis rated it really liked it
Truth really is stranger than fiction. Dark Alliance by Gary Webb illustrates this in his account of how the CIA apparently condoned drug sales from Central America in the US to fund the covert Contra war. Webb's biggest enemy after he published his original stories wasn't the government he exposed in such in such detail, but his media peers. Shou's Kill the Messenger is both a brief biography of Webb and an analysis of the events surrounding Dark Alliance. Schou describes how other journals unf ...more
Andrew Obrigewitsch
Jun 12, 2016 Andrew Obrigewitsch rated it it was amazing
This book was pretty amazing, and pretty depressing at the same time. It seems that some folks in the government think that as long as one particular goal is boing met, it's OK to destroy the rest of society.

This book is about the CIA helping the contras sell drugs in the U.S. to buy weapons to over throw a left leaning government in South America. Now it's my opinion that the U.S. should not meddle in other countries affairs to begin with, as it always, when the CIA is involved ends badly, and
Bridget Reed
Jun 14, 2015 Bridget Reed rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book because I like learning about events and what transpired, but I don't feel like really much of the book was anything new that I couldn't have learned from Webb's own book 'Dark Alliance.' There were also a ton of small typos that should have been noticed in editing (which only aggravated me because of the author's constant return to the idea that Webb would never have had as strong of a mainstream criticism of his work had he had a stronger editor). Interesting stuff, but the ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Andrew rated it it was ok
I found the book version of Dark Alliance fascinating. I looked forward to reading Kill The Messenger for a few years.

Kill The Messenger was a bit of a letdown for me. The book is full of typos throughout the entirety of the book. Even one of the most critical sentences which should have simply read "he committed suicide" had a typo that read "she he committed suicide".

The book makes it clear that Webb's editors let him down, ultimately playing a role in his downfall. Where was Schou's editor?

Mar 31, 2015 Qelilah rated it really liked it
Well, of course, the profanity was not necessary to create a good piece of literature, so, it lost one star. Otherwise, the story of this brave reporter is compelling. I did not like the way the author portrayed those who believed that the CIA was responsible for the crack-Cocaine being the the Black neighborhoods while making excuses for the CIA. The book leaves you with questions because it is mostley theory and not conclusive. I would still recommend the book for the rollercoaster ride.
Jun 08, 2015 Anne rated it really liked it
I really loved the story behind this novel because it really makes you think about how the media puts forth their stories.
This is a candid but respectful tribute to investigative journalist Gary Webb who uncovered something (CIA-crack cocaine connection) that created much controversy, destroyed his career, and ultimately took his life.
Dec 17, 2010 Srfotog rated it liked it
I was curious as some colleagues said Gary Webb's research was sloppy, but still I believe the premise that the CIA was involved, even just by looking the other way, as Nicaraguans introduced crack to the ghettos.
Christine B.
Jan 11, 2015 Christine B. rated it it was ok
If the goal of this book was to make me think Gary Webb was wronged, it failed. If the goal was to make me think he was an paranoid asshole, then mission accomplished.
Jun 02, 2015 Jeff rated it it was ok
Finished this book, it was a bit of a slog. This is a reporter reviewing the work of Webb with some new info added. Story is kind of plodding along, not nearly as exciting as the movie.
Nov 01, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
i read this first as his reporting in the oc weekly in the 90's. great companion book with gary webb's dark alliance
Jul 22, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: paper-kindle
Interesting, good background and explanation of the Gary Webb story. Problems with editing and typos in the book, though.
Feb 06, 2015 Robynn rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I got lost in all the details and want to pick up Dark Alliance, but this is an important book on the state of journalism.
Mar 10, 2015 Suzie rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this quite hard to follow at times, with too many names and details. Despite this, I found it to be an interesting story
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Kill the Messenger 2 4 Nov 25, 2014 05:24PM  
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